Because it’s all too easy for even the best-intentioned closet cleaning to turn into an afternoon of taking selfies in your old prom dress—while surrounded by haphazard ankle-deep piles of clothes, of course—we’ve provided some helpful guidelines to keep you on track. Read on for seven simple steps for organizing your closet in just one day.
1. First, you need to get organized. Have grocery totes on hand for separating items into these categories: 1. Things you are keeping but need to get tailored. 2. Designer or vintage pieces you no longer want, but could possibly resell. 3. Goods you plan on donating. Be sure to mark each bag clearly, and keep all three in a clean space to avoid cross-contamination with laundry and clutter. Also, have a notebook and pen on hand to document any holes in your wardrobe; that will help focus your shopping later on and make for an easier closet refresh down the road. Less impulse purchases = more things you’ll use = less stuff to throw out.
2. Kick things off by going through your T-shirt and tank top collection. Toss any styles you neglect right in the donation bag (sorry, no one is going to pay money for your old white T-shirt unless it’s T by Alexander Wang and barely worn—but why on earth would you get rid of that?), and take note of the remaining pieces. Later, you should stock up on duplicates of each.
3. Next, just rinse and repeat. Following the same process you did with the T-shirts, start going through other categories of clothing. Stick to tops first, followed by dresses and then work your way to denim, trousers and skirts. It’s better to do all your bottoms in a row because you’ll probably want to re-try some on; that way you won’t have to keep pulling your pants on and off. And remember: only keep things that you honestly use! If you haven’t worn it in the last year, it’s not going to happen in the following one. When you’ve finished, fold/hang stuff you’re holding on to, then take stock of everything you’ve sorted. Write down what needs to be replenished or replaced and go get some more bags—there’s still work to do.
4. After knocking out the basics, it’s time to tackle any random statement pieces in your closet—embellished jackets, leather vests, wool capes and the like—that you missed in the first sweep. Because this is the kind of stuff that requires a little more effort to wear, you’ve got to have at least three outfits on hand to go with each one. Otherwise, you’ve got two choices: put it in the sell/donate bags or commit to purchasing coordinating items. Give any style you’re on the fence about a six-month trial period and, if it’s still collecting dust in your closet after that, give it the boot.
5. Now on to your accessories! Bags, really, are pretty straightforward: everyone needs a good tote, clutch and small satchel, so if you’re missing one of those, write it down. Although it’s okay to have extra styles beyond that, only hold on to ones you carry on a regular basis (sensing a theme yet?). As for your shoes, the same keep-your-favorites-only rule goes, but you should check every pair that stays for worn-down soles. If it needs a refresh, place it in separate alteration bag from your too-long pants and pulled-thread sweaters so those items won’t get stained.
6. Sorry, you’re not quite done yet—the lingerie drawer awaits! Begin by trashing any threadbare underwear and run stockings, and then go through your bras. Most people have one or two styles they reach for first, so jot down yours and dispose of the ones you pass over (unless it’s a special occasion lace piece, of course). Finish up by checking your socks for holes and mismatched pairs to chuck.
7. Visit your local consignment shop, thrift store, tailor and cobbler, and then head back to your laptop for some serious online shopping. Just remember to stick to your list, because do you really want to do all that work again in six months?